PARIS: Head designer Hedi Slimane turned his back on black Friday in one of the biggest about-turns in years on the Paris catwalk, as French-Algerian actress Leila Bekhti enjoyed a coveted front row seat at the show.
The actress wore a suave menswear suit to the show, complete with a skinny black tie and loafers.
The superstar French designer, who is of Tunisian descent and is famed for his love of black, was dubbed the “Trump of fashion” after trashing the legacy of his much-loved feminist predecessor at Celine, Phoebe Philo, in his first women’s show for the brand in Octobe, AFP reported.
Rather than the too-cool-for-school night owls of his “Paris at night” debut, Slimane went all bourgeois as he tried to double back toward Celine’s more romantic roots.
His new cool gang are a glammy 1980s horsey set, with pleated riding skirts in earthy browns, greens and taupes worn with long shiny boots.
But the really big takeaway was the comeback of the culotte, with a whole cavalry charge of them galloping down the catwalk.
Surprising as that was, no one had predicted the return of silky pussy bow blouses worn under sensible coats and cardigans.
The man they once called the “Sultan of skinny” even got a few frilly blouses in too. All that was lacking was the pearls.
This embrace of romantic, comfortable country glamor, of the type that Hermes and others do rather well, left critics scratching their heads, with the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman asking, “(The) joke’s on who?“
But for the fact that every model wore black sunglasses, it hardly looked like a Slimane show.
It also seemed strangely at odds with Slimane’s first media campaign for the house, which he released this week, featuring 17-year-old British model Hannah Motler.
Shot by Slimane itself, it was full of the dark rock ‘n’ roll glamor he is famous for.
Friedman, however, had no doubt that the oxblood shearling-edged thigh-high boots that Slimane teamed with jeans and camel coats and capes in the show were a winner.
“Betcha Celine is going to sell a lot of these boots,” she tweeted.
While there was some slight nods to the Philo’s legion of grieving followers — who have made her past Celine collections collector’s items — Slimane leapfrogged over her minimalism to go deep into the brand’s archives in search of inspiration.
His slash and burn attitude to the brand — getting rid of the French accent on its logo, calling his first show “Celine 01” as if the 70 years before his arrival at the label had not existed, and erasing Philo’s clothes from the label’s Instagram account, irritated many.
His first collection took an unprecedented kicking from English-speaking critics in particular, with social media spats between his defenders — the Slimaniacs — and Philo supporters, the Philophiles.
Slimane — who has a record of turning labels into cash cows — has form in ruffling feathers. He dropped the Yves from Saint Laurent when he took over at the iconic house in 2012.